Sophiep's Take on Things....
Before FAS Windows & Doors, there was FAS Autosports. The brand, FAS, carried over to today’s company name. Let’s learn how FAS began.
FAS Autosports started in 1998 with Ernie Wilding’s passion for speed and cars. This fire for racing was sparked at the annual “24 hours of Daytona”, a sport car racing event, he attended with his son, John. Like father like son, John too fell in love with the speed and the incredible cars.
Ernie couldn't bring home enough bacon to pursue the dream of racing until he sold his business. With that, he purchased his first sport car, the Corvette and started driving in the Car Guys program. The first event he raced in was in Maryland. Ernie said it “was fun and at the time a scary event.” It didn’t take too long for Ernie to get comfortable behind the wheel before his next event.
Meanwhile, John also attended the Car Guys program and went on to be a Master Instructor at Chin Motorsports, where he was responsible for the advancement of students from the solo level to the advanced level. To further his driving knowledge, he graduated the Advanced Driving Course from Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. He also finished SCCA driving school and was awarded a Regional Competition license. John mostly drove in autocross events and drag racing.
Ernie invited John and his Honda Civic to his second event. This was the day John told his dad, “The Corvette was cool; however, we need to put together a team and go racing,” and suggested to make his sister’s car, the Acura Integra, into a race car. Thus, it began the adventure of FAS Autosports, which John and his mother named. The logo was designed by John himself.
They started racing with an open trailer and a little tool box in the back trunk of the car. Other racers laughed at how prepared the team was. Ernie told me when they first started, they “were about as dumb as a bag of hammers in car set-up and how to set up a team.” Within two years, they had a closed-box 24-foot trailer, a rolling toolbox and all the stuff they needed for a race weekend. Both John and Ernie shared the car and took turns to race.
They started driving enduro races, which involved racing for an hour and a half up to six hours. You pit and change drivers.
The team had won at every track in the southeast. John was a born driver. He won 1st in an SCCA event in Daytona in the rain in 1998. In 2001, he finished 2nd in the ITA class in the CFR Championship with a limited schedule. He also finished 2nd in the Sediv ECR series in ITA with a limited schedule. At the Double ECR at VIR in ITA 10-01, he finished 1st both days and set the track record at Sebring Long Course in ITA until November of 2006. Those were just a few to name in 2001. In 2002, he finished 3rd in the SM in the CFR championship while joining the series mid season, 3rd in the ARRC sprint at Road Atlanta in SM and 3rd at the SARRC at Sebring Long Course back in SM. In 2003, he finished 2nd at during SARRC at Sebring Short Course in SM after capturing pole-position. He also placed 2nd at ARRC enduro in SM before being bumped for having a different sanctioning body sticker on the car. In the same year, he won 3 out of 3 races at Sebring Long Course which included an enduro. In 2004, he won 1st in SM during the 12 Hours of Homestead. He also led ¾ of the race until an unfortunate mechanical failure. However, he did finish 2nd both days in SM and 3rd in sprint and endurance race in SM. Then, in 2005 FAS Windows & Doors came to life and racing had to stand aside. It wasn't too long before John raced a couple more. He qualified on pole in class for PBOC Winterfest at Sebring Long Course 6 hour enduro and finished 2nd in class R8 and 7th overall (slowest class) in 2006. This was a 6 hour sprint. The most recent race was in 2007. John finished 1st in class R8 and 6th overall (slowest class), just 1 lap over next to the R8 Spec Miata competitor at the 6 hour Sebring Winterfest event.
Amongst all these winning, Ernie had a few as well (just not as many as John). Together, FAS Autosports became amazing at racing enduro races. The Acura has been now sold and replaced with a BMW M-3 plus a Mazda Miata that a pro team built. FAS Autosports is still racing but on a limited budget. As Ernie said, “As old as I am, I still enjoy racing and winning. Today however, it’s more about lowering my times and returning safely to the paddock.” Since FAS Windows & Doors started, John hasn’t been racing too much, but he hopes to race again more often. Below is a picture of Ernie racing the BMW M-3 in Daytona on the first weekend of May 2010. He placed 1st!